Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), Pub. L. No. 92-463, 86 Stat 770 (1972), codified at 5 U.S.C. App. §§ 1-16.
Enactment of FACA was prompted by the belief of many citizens and Members of Congress that such committees were duplicative, inefficient, and lacked adequate control or oversight. Additionally, some citizens believed the committees failed to sufficiently represent the public interest — an opinion punctuated by the closed-door meeting policies of many committees.
The Act specifies the circumstances under which a federal advisory committee can be established, and its responsibilities and limitations. The Act mandates certain structural and operational requirements for many federal committees, including formal reporting and oversight procedures for the advisory bodies. The Act requires that committee membership be "fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented," and advice provided by committees be objective and accessible to the public. It also presumptively requires that the meetings of all federal advisory committees serving executive branch entities be open to public observation.
The statute specifies nine categories of information — similar to those of the Freedom of Information Act — that may be permissively relied upon to close advisory committee deliberations when such matters are under discussion. Disputes over the proper public notice for a committee meeting or the closing of a session may be pursued in federal court.
Application to cybersecurity
The Act has been criticized as potentially impeding the full development of public/private partnerships in cybersecurity, particularly with respect to impeding private-sector communications and input on policy. While Section 871 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 provides the Secretary of Homeland Security with the power to establish advisory committees that are exempt from the requirements of the Act, it is possible that additional exemption authority would be helpful. Any such potential benefits might, however, need to be weighed against the impact of such authority on the public’s ability to participate in and access the records of affected advisory committees.
- Federal Advisory Committees: An Overview, Summary ("Overview" section).
- Federal Laws Relating to Cybersecurity: Discussion of Proposed Revisions, at 20 ("Application to cybersecurity" section).